It may be criticized by critics and genre-purists, but when country artists go pop they often hit gold (as in gold records). Some have been more successful than others, but as long as people have varied influences and backgrounds, it will continue to happen. For some reason, women have been more successful at it than the men. So here’s my list of artists who have straddled the lines between country and pop:
She’s had her foot in both genres from the beginning of her career. She has won MTV awards and country music awards too. Her latest CD “Red” is pure pop. Essential songs: “You Belong to Me,” “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and “Teardrops on My Guitar.”
When she hooked up with producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, she went from nobody to country pop diva. He brought his wall-of sound production skills that he used for Def Leppard and Foreigner and took her to the next level. Essential songs: “Still the One,” “Up,” and “Man! I Feel like a Woman!”
Another pretty lady who can sing, she has had big hits on both the pop and country charts. Plus she’s married to country hunk Tim McGraw too. She’s done some acting too, but at heart she’s still a ‘Mississippi Girl.’ Essential songs: “This Kiss,” “Breathe” and “The Way You Love Me.”
Their first CD had more of a country feel, but when they went more pop they got more popular and won a few Grammys too. This trio with their great vocal blend has had major success in the last few years. Essential songs: “Need You Now,” “Just a Kiss” and “Run to You.”
Dianne Warren is a great songwriter. She has written for tons of great female vocalists over the years. When LeAnn sang some of her songs for the movie “Coyote Ugly”, the result was a hit record and a sort of coming out for the ground-up more mature LeAnn. Essential songs: “Can’t Fight the Moonlight,” “How Do I Live” and “I Need You.”
Described as country for people that don’t like county music, this wonder from down under is one of the new judges on “American Idol” this season. He’s obviously been influenced by a lot of rock musicians. Essential songs: “Making Memories of Us,” “Once in a Lifetime” and “You’ll Think of Me.”
More country than pop, he had had some success crossing over. He’s done duets with Def Leppard and Nelly, plus is married to Faith Hill. He’s also dabbled in acting. Essential songs: “Over and Over,” “Live Like We’re Dyin” and “Real Good Man.”
Back in the 80’s, he had an incredible run of hit singles on both the country and pop charts. Plus one of his biggest hits was written by Lionel Richie. Essential songs: “Lady,” “The Gambler” and “Islands in the Stream.”
Sure she had humble beginnings, but Dolly has also made her mark in Hollywood too, with her outrageous clothes and wigs and self-deprecating humor. She dueted with Kenny Rogers on one of country-pop’s biggest hits (written by the Bee Gees by the way). Essentials songs: “9 to 5,” “Here You Come Again” and “I Will Always Love You.”
Her left-field collaboration with the British electronica group The KLF “Justifed and Ancient” earns her a spot here. Nobody could have predicted the “Stand By Your Man” singer would have a hit with this strange, but entertaining song.
Another county trio, this one made up of 3 guys. They have also been influenced by classic rock. Jay DeMarcus even produced an album for the band Chicago. Plus they have covered AC/DC and Bon Jovi in their concerts. Essential songs: “God Bless the Broken Road,” “What Hurts the Most” and “Life Is a Highway.”
The biggest star to emerge from “American Idol,” she had found great success straddling the line between the 2 genres. She even famously performed with Aerosmith at the Grammys. Essentials songs: “Before He Cheats,” “Last Name” and “Jesus Take the Wheel.”
Spice69man is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Rock the Kilt lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.